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Fab North America Travel

    Fab North America Travel

    Route 66

    Chapter Four – How It All Began

    Location: Illinois

    How it all began. Route 66 is how it began for many people back in the day when it came time to “motor west”.

    And Route 66 is the reason we are here today. The basis of this road trip we are on.  It all started here.

    After our first summer with Betty – the lovely old pink lady- I got it in my head that we should do a road trip with the vintage trailer on Route 66.  At first we were going to do it last summer.  But then we decided to wait until my husband retired so we would have more time.image

    In the beginning I started planning the trip from California to Chicago.  But my husband said to do it “right” we really needed to drive it the way it was intended – east to west.

    And that is how we got here today.

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    Here we are – with Betty in the background in the middle of downtown Chicago. The beginning.

    The past 23 days on the road across Canada, then through Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and now Illinios has all been to reach this spot – the launching pad of “the mother road”.

    It’s fun to finally be here.

    And so it begins – for the next 29 days we meander our way back to Washington – with most of that time on Route 66.  We plan to take some time off the road in Arkansas and Arizona but we also plan to cover it from tip to tail, arriving in Santa Monica October 28th.

    Time to get some kicks.  See ya down the road.

     

     

     

    Fab North America Travel

    Remember the Roosevelts

    Chapter Four – Taking it all for Granted

    Location: Hudson River Valley

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    I loath to talk politics. I’ve always found discussing politics and finances with anyone other than my husband too uncomfortable. To me these are private things I hold close.

    During this political season however, it’s very difficult to get away from it. The weight of our nations upcoming decision sits painfully on my soul.  My mind continually wonders “how did we get here?”

    This question has never been more prevalent in my mind than over the last several days as we have imagetoured the beautiful Hyde Park New York National Park that recognizes and honors Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    In preparation for our time in the Hudson River Valley we have been listening to the book Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn on Audible.  This is a wonderful story mostly about Eleanor but also about Franklin that looks deeply into both their personal lives covering topics about each of them from infidelity to lesbianism that are still today often swept under the rug.

    That alone is very interesting to me in contrast with politics today where every single personal item possible is dredged up and hashed over again in again by both parties  adnauseum.

    I look at the Roosevelt’s life, marriage and dedication to the people of the United States and clearly acknowledge without these two selfless people, we would be living in a very different world today.image

    Yet still three weeks before we elect a new President and 71 years after the death of FDR I sadly contemplate the question “how did we get here?”

    We have dropped to a new low in our democracy where candidates and Americans alike take for granted the principles our country was founded on, the programs that were created to save our democracy during the Great Depression, and the sacrifices made by millions around the world during WWII.

    Instead my Facebook page is daily flooded with dark and filthy comments and “jokes” about immigrants, poverty and the disabled.  Many of the remarks imagebeing made by one of our Presidential candidates.

    FDR, with Eleanor by his side, drove home from the first 100 days of his presidency, the constitutional rights of all American’s and the Founding Father’s vision that welcomed refugees from persecution around the world. How did we get here?

    FDR’s famous 1941 speech known today as The Four Freedoms speech presented to congress and the American people for the first time the idea that every human being (not just Americans and not just the wealthy) was entitled to four things –

     – the freedom of speech and expression

    – the freedom to worship God in his own way

    – the freedom from want and

    – the freedom from fear

    These freedoms where the focus during the Roosevelt years in the White House, particularly as we entered WWII and went on to become the basis of the passage of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted in part by Eleanor Roosevelt and adopted in 1948 after FDR’s death.image

    Eleanor said “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

    The question remains – when will we?

    Human Rights should be our life’s work and focus, as it was for the Roosevelt’s. And yet today we often treat animals more humanely than people. How did we get here?

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site,the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.   I also enjoyed the book Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn. I recommend it all.

    We all could use a reminder – a reminder on sacrifice, human rights, kindness. We could also all use a reminder on public service – Franklin and Eleanor were flawed human beings, just like each of us, but they worked tirelessly , despite their own family issues, problems, fears, weaknesses and mistakes to do the right thing each and everyday.image

    “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little  .” FDR

    (Note – Feel free to comment as long as you can be kind and productive but I WILL NOT ALLOW any nasty or negative remarks on either Presidential candidate on my page.  My page – my rules) .

    Fab North America Travel

    Run for the Border

    Chapter Four – Farewell Canada

    Location: Canada

    Mile 3550. Day 19.

    Since my last blog we have covered another 1000 miles.  But we have also had some great relax time.  We spent three days in Montreal at a beautiful KOA campground before moving on to a hotel in Quebec City 150 miles further east.

    Montreal was the first stop in two weeks where we stayed more than two days.  We looked forward to this time in Montreal – setting the trailer up and leaving it for multiple days is a relief.  The campground had about a dozen guests, nowhere near full, so it felt like we had some room to breath.IMG_5193

    Except the one morning I woke up and looked out the window in my nightgown and there was a woman taking photos of our trailer.

    Having a little more time also gives us the chance to get up and do a morning run – from this campground that meant a beautiful route on a rural farm road.  I did four miles two days in a row (still trying to get back up to a six-mile run).

    Our tendency in a city is usually to spend one day exploring the historic area and another day hiking or exploring a natural area.  With two full days in Montreal that worked great.  Day one was spent walking around Old Town, going to museums

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    and cathedrals and window shopping.  Listening to outdoor musicians and having an amazing dinner at the world famousAu Pied De Chochon.  Day two we headed to the Montreal Botanical Gardens, located adjacent to the 1976 Montreal Olympic site.  The gardens were exceptional, made even better by the sunny fall day.  We walked and walked and really enjoyed our visit.

    Next morning we leisurely packed up and headed east again.  Arriving mid day in Quebec City we headed straight to the Montmorency Falls.  We had read that this was a top thing to do in the area but we didn’t really know anything more about it.  Boy we were glad we went.  The falls are spectacular and a unique walkway, bridge and staircase as well as a IMG_5252gondola provide visitors a fun experience around this beautiful natural wonder right in the city.

    We then checked into a hotel. We looked forward to a bit of a break staying in a hotel. But although I tried to prepare, we kept thinking of things we left in the trailer (baseball cap, gin – you know, the important stuff).  We had a wonderful French dinner at a gastropub of all places.  La Voie Maltee is known for a menu using all their beers to prepare their food, with a French flair.  Steak Tartare and Moules Frites was a great end to the day.

    Saturday morning we drove to a river walk area and did a wonderful 5 mile run along a 32km path that follows the St. Lawrence.  Nothing makes a run easier and more enjoyable than scenic beauty.

    Back to the hotel and shower and then off for a day in Old Town Quebec.IMG_5298

    Old Quebec is much smaller and “quainter” than Old Montreal.  The entire  Old Town of Quebec is surrounded by an old wall – very reminiscent of many European cities.  After exploring the shops and restaurants (we ate Poutine) in Old Town, we spent a couple of hours walking on the wall enjoying the amazing views including the Parliament, the Citadel and the Saint Lawrence River.  The walk eventually took us to the historic and very beautiful Chateau de Frontinac.  This hotel, which boasts it is the most photographed hotel in the world, is one of several stunning hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th and early 20th century.  It is so beautiful, grand and elegant on its perch high above the river.IMG_5322

    Saturday night we headed to a tiny neighborhood where we seemed to be the only people over 30, to go to a Ramen Noodle restaurant Tora Ya Ramen.  We knew it would be good when we found a line outside the door.  After waiting 45 minutes we were seated in the tiny space and had a wonderful meal, filling, delicious and cheap.  And fabulous service.

    Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we headed 45 minutes outside of the city to the Jacque Cartier National Park to hike.  We had barely put the

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    city behind us before we began a climb and found ourselves surrounded by stunning color in the trees.  We did an amazing 8-mile hike through this spectacular forest, along rivers, up and down and all around.  It was a seriously lovely day.

    Tonight we are packing up for an early morning departure as we run for the border.  The USA border is only a couple of hours from here and we will cross into Vermont mid-morning.

    Our 19 days in Canada has been an amazing experience.  A gorgeous

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    country with lovely people.  Thank you Canada.  We will be back.

    But tomorrow – it’s Hello USA – my phone will work again!  But our adventure is barely begun – we still have more than a month on the road.

    I hope you will keep following.

    Run for the border – Farewell Canada!

    Fab North America Travel

    The Crossing

    Chapter Four – Day 12 – 2500 Miles

    Location: Canada

    As we drive the expanse that is Canada we are listening to John Steinbeck’s masterpiece “The Grapes of Wrath”.  I’ve read the book and seen the movie, but listening to the book on Audible is mesmerizing.  And so apropos.  I chose this book because in a couple of weeks we will be traveling on the great Route 66.  But as we listen to it now in Canada we find subtle similarities, and acknowledging our journey and fab fifty life is in part thanks to people like the Joad’s who paved the way.

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    The crossing of the great country of Canada is different than I imagined.  Having driven three times across the United States I was expecting it to be the same.  But it is not.  Canada seems so much larger – the distances between our chosen destinations seeming endless.  Hundreds of miles between towns or cities.  And sometimes between gas stations or services.  Sparsely populated in a way that makes the thought ring truer than ever before – “out in the middle of imagenowhere”.  Like the Joad’s on Route 66.

    We left Winnipeg Beach on Friday morning at 7am and fell into bed that night at 9pm with 600 miles done.  Pulling Betty on the Trans-Canada Highway we go a maximum speed of 60mph.  There is minimal traffic, mostly just truckers traversing the country just like us.  A truck stop service station appears about every 100 miles.  Just gas and fast food – little more.  We knew our drive from Winnipeg on Friday was going to be a long one.  We wanted to cover as many miles as we could.  We imagethought it would be easier to drive until we couldn’t drive no more and then get a hotel.

    It was a good idea, but it didn’t work out exactly as we imagined.  There were plenty of hotels as we passed through the city of Thunder Bay on the border of Manitoba and Ontario.  But it was still early and we kept going.  Then there was nothing.  For miles and miles and miles.  Nothing but truckers.  Nothing but signs warning to watch out for moose.  Nothing more.

    Finally not wanting to drive too much after dark we pulled off in the town of Nipigon.  Three old style motels stared at us in varying states of decay on the side of the highway – no doubt built in the era of the Joad Family.  We chose the one that looked the least offensive and checked in.  In hindsight, we shouldimage have just pulled into a truck stop and slept in Betty – the motel offered little comfort.  It actually was more of a hassle – as we needed to pull clothes and toiletries out of Betty to have in the motel room.  In Betty we have a system.  A comfortable routine.  The Joad’s had a routine too.  Pull out the tarp and the mattresses and fry up some pork.  Same thing each night – maybe not fancy but in the routine they found comfort.

    We slept well though, despite the shabby room and were on the road again at 8:30am.  The night before we had passed into the Eastern timezone – our inability to know what time it is following us across the miles.

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    Fog was our companion on this morning as we continued our eastward quest.  But within the first hour the fog burned off and a very bright sunny morning greeted us – the sun in the East shining right in our eyes.  As we drove the Joad’s were traveling through the Mojave Dessert, hungry and poor as they prayed their old jalopy would carry them through.  Meanwhile the Lund’s stopped for lunch at a truck stop A&W – the only option we could find.

    And then we descended down along Lake Superior.  Beautiful and blue and gigantic.  For a girl from

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    Washington it is difficult to look at an expanse of water like that and accept it’s not salt water.  So big and vast.  We entered Lake Superior Provincial Park and admired the endless miles of pine trees and rust colored deciduous trees on the rolling hills around us.  The road pulled us away from the great lake and wound it’s way through hundreds of smaller lakes and ponds on either side of the road.  The Joad’s arrived in California’s lush green valley’s with no where to go, and pulled into one of many “Hooverville’s” for vagrants.   The Lund’s pulled into the Agawa Bay Campground right on the shores of Lake Superior and counted their blessings to find such an exquisitely beautiful place to spend the next couple of days.

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    We snagged one of the few spots with electrical hook-ups and got Betty all set up and then we took a four mile hike on the coastal trail.  I spent time on this hike practicing some new i-phone photo techniques I have been learning.  There is no wi-fi and we don’t know when we might find it again, and we took the time to enjoy being out of touch.  Meanwhile Ma Joad fretted how she would manage to keep the “fambly” together with no way of communicating if they got separated.

    We took our chairs down to the shore to watch the sunset.  We had watched the sunrise as we drove this morning, and then we sat together and watched it set over Lake Superior.  I turned to my husband and smiled, “What are we doing here?” it’s like a dream.

    For the Joad’s it was more of a nightmare.

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    California did not live up to their dreams and expectations.  Life just was hard – no matter where they were.

    Day two at Agawa Bay dawned bright and gorgeous and I went for a five mile run.  We then packed up a picnic and headed out to do some hiking.  What a perfect day to walk – solitary trails through woods and lakes.  Stunning beauty.  We definitely feel this is our favorite spot yet.  It feels like real camping (bonfire too) and being right on the lake is special.  Lake Superior – not just any lake.  One of the Great ones.  An icon of America.  Here we are.image

    I’ll post this blog when we find wi-fi again, most likely on Monday, Day 12, when we reach Sault St. Marie.  In the meantime we relax here in Ontario Canada – a long way from home.  A long way from the trials of the Joad Family.  But thankful for them and those who persevered.

    Fab North America Travel

    I left my heart in Manitoba.

    Chapter Four

    Location: Manitoba Canada

    I wasn’t expecting it. In fact I had no expectations whatsoever. I knew nothing about Manitoba and had barely ever given it a thought. Until today.

    I’ve fallen hard. So pristine and natural. So beautiful and quiet. My kinda place.

    And I’ve only been here a day – and I’m only seeing a fraction of this giant province. But I like what I see. Sure it helps that the weather is amazing. Cold nights but sunny and 75 degrees during the day.

    It also helps that we are here at Lake Winnipeg in the off season.  The small town here reminds me of Rehoboth or Cape Cod on a much smaller scale.  In the early part of the 1900’s it was a resort town – somewhat like that resort in the movie Dirty Dancing.  Today it’s a summer retreat for camping and water sports.  But it’s pretty quiet in late September. Most of the houses shuttered for the winter and many of the shops only open on the weekend

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    I ran four miles this morning – smiling all the while. We just ate a picnic in the sun and now are enjoying a beer while a write this. The only sound I hear is the wind in the trees and the lightly lapping water at the lakes edge.

    Better get up and love me some more Manitoba before we leave in the morning.  I think we’ll spend the afternoon hiking.

     

     

    Fab North America Travel

    Rolling Down the Road – Week One

    Chapter Four

    Location: Canada

    Thursday marks the end of week one of Chapter Four of the Grand Adventure.  Our week living in 11 foot pink Betty has been “interesting”.  A few challenges have presented themselves, but nothing we can’t handle. After all, that’s why it’s called an adventure right?

    As of Wednesday evening we have traveled 1560 miles since leaving Gig Harbor last Thursday.  Tonight finds us all cozy in my favorite campground so far, Lake Winnipeg Beach, about an hour north of Winnipeg Manitoba.

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    Our first “campground” in Issaquah was convenient to see old friends and to attend the Bonnie Raitt concert, but boy was it noisy!  Right next to Interstate 90 and we seriously had to yell to hear each other over the din of traffic.  Our third night we pulled into an RV park after dark in Creston British Columbia.  It was small but we only needed to sleep.  We didn’t set up the canopy or do much else before falling into bed after a long day of driving.  Shortly after falling asleep a loud and close thunderstorm descended upon us.  Poor Betty has never seen the likes of this before.  The noise of the rain pummeling the metal roof was tremendous.  The following morning imagepacking up to leave again with everything soaking wet was depressing

    But quickly the weather changed to bright autumn sun.  The weather was so great and with plenty of time to spare we decided to spend two nights in Medicine Hat.  We did some laundry and then took a nice long walk in a beautiful riverfront park where the crisp sunny fall air coupled with the brilliant blue sky and the cotton wood and ginkgo trees dressed in gold and orange made us feel we were walking in a painting.  Stunning.

    Factoid – the name Medicine Hat comes from a Blackfoot Indian word that described a hat worn by the Indian Medicine Man.  Medicine Hat is a major natural gas region.  The city’s nickname is “Gas City”.  Not sure that’s the best tourism marketing name…if you get my drift.

    Betty had a minor short-circuit while we were in

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    Medicine Hat.  This meant we spent the first very cold night (in the 30’s) without our heater.  But my amazing husband was able to pinpoint the problem (just a loose wire) and had us back in business in time for coffee in the morning. We had our heater on night two, but some clouds had come in and it wasn’t nearly as cold on night two.

    WiFi is sporadic, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  I finished one book and have started another.  We played two games of Scrabble one night and I actually won the first one.  First time in 34 years of marriage I beat my husband at scrabble.  That probably would never have happened if I had wi-fi to keep me staring at my phone!

    On Tuesday morning we headed East again and

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    shortly crossed the border into Saskatchewan.  Check this one off the list.  My first time in Saskatchewan.  I’ve been to five Canadian provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.  On this trip I will add Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.  The list of must see’s is getting shorter.

    Apparently if you live in Saskatchewan there is a law you must drive a truck.  A big truck.  Of course I’m not serious but everybody drives great big trucks.  The look of astonishment on great big burly Canadian men driving their great big burly trucks as we float by with pink Betty is definitely amusing. It cracks me up every time.

    We arrived at a beautiful riverside park in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan early enough in the day that we were once again able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.  The trees are well ahead in their fall colors compared to back home and our timing seems to be just about perfect to see the peak of color in this area.I ’m keeping my fingers crossed this will be true as we make our way east to Quebec and then down into New York.

    We decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking in Moose Jaw, mostly because we were in search of wi-fi.  We ended up eating a mediocre meal – very

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    sloooooowllllly – so we could spend two hours on wi-fi catching up with family, friends and doing a few weekly chores online.

    Factoid – The city’s name Moose Jaw has two possible origins.  The first is from the Plains Cree Indian word that means warm place by the river, indicative of the protection Moose Jaw valley has from the Coteau range.  The other theory on the name comes from the map surveyors who called the area Moose Jaw Bone Creek with the Moose Jaw river apparently looking like the jaw of a moose.

    Only one night in Saskatchewan and we were on the road again, to Winnipeg Manitoba (check off another one) arriving late in the day.  We spent about ten hours driving, but we don’t mind doing this when we know we can have two days of rest.  We arrived at the most beautiful campground we have seen yet, Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park. It’s a huge campground right on this gorgeous lake.  But there is only about half a dozen people here.  Our spot is perfectly situated between the lake and the lady’s room!  Score!  We made Peanut Thai Noodles for dinner and ate outside as the sunset.image

    Factoid – the word Winnipeg is also Cree and means muddy waters.  From what I can see, the lake is not.

    It’s easy to cook in Betty, as long as you plan ahead.  There is no oven, so stove top items only.  That’s no problem.  During the past week we have had Taco Salad, Cowboy Potatoes, Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, Eggs and Bacon, Spinach Salad and Peanut Thai Noodles.  No one is going hungry on this trip.

    The weather looks good here in Winnipeg, so we are going to take two days here and enjoy ourselves.  We will head to Ontario on Friday.

    So that is week one done – Betty is happy to be on the road – and so are we.

    The adventure continues…

    Fab North America Travel

    And away We Go! Chapter Four Begins!

    Betty is on the move!

    It’s been a whirlwind week as we have tried to decompress, see family, meet up with friends, unpack, do laundry, re-pack and pay bills. Sheesh. Somehow we will get it all done in the next 24 hours, before we depart on our six-week cross-country road trip in our cute little pink vintage trailer “Betty”.

    “Betty” might be feeling a little neglected this summer. It’s the third summer we have owned the little pink princess, but we have only used her once. But that is all about to change as we set out on a big tour.

    Ever since we purchased “Betty” I have wanted to drive her the length of Route 66. It’s about to IMG_4638happen. As part of the last hoorah with “Betty” before we sell her, we have planned a road trip that will cover nearly 10,000 miles and take us from Seattle to Quebec, New York to Arkansas, Oklahoma to Santa Monica and back to Seattle.

    She is polished and ready, packed and prepared and we hit the road Thursday. And of course we hope you will follow along with us.

    “Betty” is on the move! Chapter four begins. Fabulous!